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I’ve been trying to resist joining the communal navel-gazing that attends the end of a calendar year. “After all,” to paraphrase Scarlet O’Hara, “Tomorrow is just another day.” The First of January is a legacy of the Roman Empire. There’s no more compelling reason to make its arrival special than there is for, say, Rosh Hashana, or Samhain, or the vernal equinox… or one’s own biological birthday or Second Life rezday.
Predictably (pun intended), the SLogosphere has been full of look-backs and looks ahead, and I would be remiss if I didn’t add my still small voice… wouldn’t I? I’ve only been publicly blogging since September ’09, and have no previous year’s predictions to review for their (lack of) prescience, so… here’s my prediction for Second Life in 2010:
Same Shit, Different Decade
Linden Lab will continue to stumble through yet another year of poorly conceived, haltingly communicated and inconsistently executed policies, procedures, public relations campaigns, and platform and GUI “improvements”. Those efforts will have the apparent intent of drawing more new Users, encouraging them to pay for Premium memberships, and perhaps even retaining them — and those efforts will, by their very nature, continue to dissatisfy, alienate, anger and (in the extreme case) drive off the core population of existing Residents.
Mark that distinction well: Users, as opposed to Residents.
While aware of the risk of becoming, as Botgirl put it, “a self-plagiarizing caricature”, I’m going to direct you to two previous posts of mine. The earlier one, written partially in parody of a Lee Iacocca-style CEO touting his cars, was a reaction to the first of what became a series of Hamlet Au’s New World Notes blogs advocating “mass adoption” of Second Life. Here are the relevant final paragraphs, with the names no longer changed:
Yes, friends, it’s true — all those nagging little problems still exist: lagging, crashing, hijacks, theft. So do the nagging little Residents who insist on reminding us of them. But, thanks to our buddy Hamlet Au, we have a brilliant idea! All we have to do is expand the number of accounts by 100-fold! Think of it, friends… instead of tens of thousands of concurrent avatars at any time, there’ll be millions! Just imagine how your Second Life experience will improve!
And… Those problems? Well, once we get a million or two new users of the same old SL, we promise, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die, to get right on them. Honest, folks! Would we lie to you? Of course not! Would we change the subject, redirect the discussion, and pretend we hadn’t heard the criticism?
The more recent post of mine served two purposes: to counter-rant at Dusan Writer on the subject of “Entitlement”, and to emphasize that every financial entitlement Linden Lab has granted to the User of the Service (Second Life) is at the sole ultimate service of the Lab’s income. With no small sense of irony, I quoted Dusan’s subsequent reaction to the opening of the Linden Homes beta — and I do so again, in part, here:
While Linden Lab is clearly focused on changing the new user experience, this is also leading to a de facto re-engineering of the way that land and other goods are purchased and will change the culture of Second Life. With more consumer-focused branding and lots of “buy” buttons everywhere, the Grid is moving towards a more packaged and more purchase-oriented environment.
I doubt that a more succinct executive summary of the Lab’s “roadmap” could be found anywhere on the part of the Web that is SL-aware.
Marketing to the masses can only lead to mediocrity. The phrase “lowest common denominator” should be self-explanatory. And — if the Lab is successful — as the uncaring masses descend upon Second Life with their Facebook expectations and (lack of) mentality, the voices of those who care about how the world works will be overwhelmed.
That’s my prediction for SL in 2010: More of the same.
And the National Bank, at a profit, sells roadmaps for the soul
To the old-folk’s home, and the college.
— Bob Dylan, “Tombstone Blues”
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